• Right Man for the Job

    Just for fun, letís imagine that you have worked for a company for more than 25 years. Imagine you have been in a very important position within that company for a dozen years. Youíve given your heart and soul, worked hard and dedicated your energies to that company. You may not be the perfect employee. Frankly, for your job, there is no such thing as perfect. However, itís not an easy job, dealing with personalities and performances of others.

    Imagine now that the last three or four projects that you were in charge of had not gone as planned. Though the expectations of some were that the projects would be simple, each had unforeseen challenges. You did your job in the right ways, continued to work hard, continued to work with your teams. You performed your job and did all the necessary work, but the projects were not seen as successes.

    How would you want your boss and his or her superiors to respond?

    Well, there are two options, arenít there?

    Option 1 Ė They could decide to terminate your employment or push you to a different area of the company. Thatís probably the easier choice.

    Option 2 Ė Despite the loud voices to the contrary, your boss can stand up for you and talk about how the whole team, the whole organization is responsible and accountable. The boss can ask you to work on certain things, and maybe look in the mirror at areas you can improve, in an attempt to improve the overall performance. The boss can stand behind you to his or her superiors because there have been many successes along the way, big and small.

    With Mondayís decision to retain the services of Manager Ron Gardenhire for the next two seasons, GM Terry Ryan chose for Option #2, and my personal opinion is that it is the right decision.

    Ron Gardenhire is not without faults. There are times I may question some in-game decisions, or why he chooses to call out a young player through the media, but overall, Gardenhire has proven himself on the field. He and his coaching staff also put in their work and their time, all in the effort of making players better every day. There have been several successes, and like all walks of life, there are plenty of mistakes.

    The Twins lost 96 games in 2013, the third straight season they have lost at least that many games. The number of managers who have kept their job after three straight 90-loss seasons is very low. However, one such example of this is the Twins, and it was Tom Kelly. It should surprise no one that the organization wants to remain loyal and wants to build from within. In early September, the Twins found themselves with a 61-77 record. They proceeded to lose 14 of their final 19 games to end the year at 66-96. Of course, Justin Morneau had been traded and Joe Mauer missed the final six weeks with his concussion.

    ďThe players want Gardy to come back.Ē To nobody's surprise, players were quoted over the weekend that they wanted Ron Gardenhire to return and spoke glowingly about his managerial style and how hard he worked. Listening to the quotes of players who are loyal to their manager is definitely not something the GM should base his decision on.

    However, the only thing worse than making a move to appease the players is to make a move to appease the fans. Fans want wins, and thatís what everybody wants. Thereís nothing wrong with that. The GM's job is to find ways to win as quickly as possible while also looking out for the long-term future of the product on the field.

    The idea of making a change just to make a change is obviously not smart. Consider this. A year ago, fans were screaming for Joe Vavra to lose the hitting coach duties so Tom Brunansky could take over. How well did that turn out for the Twins in 2013, a Twins team that struck out the third most times by a team in baseball history?

    Many will choose to look at the last three seasons. Itís also hard to ignore his first nine seasons. In that time, he had six division titles, and a second place finish (after losing a Game 163). Just once in his first nine seasons did the Twins have a sub-.500 record.

    Some choose to look at the Twins playoff record, and I understand that. However, what happens over a 162 game sample size is a more reliable indicator than a five game sample any day.

    Manager of the Year voting is always an interesting endeavor. However, he won the award in 2010 after finishing second in voting five times previously. The respect that Gardenhire has in the baseball industry is great.

    So, how much credit and how much blame should a manager get? The Cleveland Indians won more than 20 games more in 2013 than in 2012. Terry Francona took over for Manny Acta. The difference, however, was that Francona inherited a rotation in which four starters were able to strike out over eight batters per nine innings. They had a lineup of veterans that was supplemented with free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. Ron Gardenhire worked with a starting staff that seemed allergic to missing bats.

    Remember: Ron Gardenhire could have been a free agent manager on Monday. He could have had his choice of open jobs in the coming weeks. I appreciate that he wants to stay here. As he said, he wants to be part of the answer for turning this around. He is going to need help from the front office to make that happen.

    Despite being 102 games below over the last three years, Gardenhire is still 51 games over .500 for his 12-year career. He has not forgotten how to manage, and he has the respect of his players.

    Brian Dozier and several bullpen arms took strides forward, and Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins played at their All-Star levels. Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, Josmil Pinto, Caleb Thielbar, Ryan Pressly and Michael Tonkin came up, took some lumps, gained some experience, and should be better for it. In 2014, Twins fans should see the debuts of Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Alex Meyer, Trevor May, likely Byron Buxton, and maybe Danny Santana. Those guys will also likely take some lumps, so 2014 should again be a rebuilding year.

    The front office and the scouting staff have put together some great minor league talent that will be another year closer in 2014, but for the team to take a major step forward, starting in 2014, the front office will have to acquire some veterans that can be counted on. Also, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, if around, will have to be better.

    It's going to be 2015 before we see just how good this team can be. The youth and hopefully some complementary veterans will help. And Ron Gardenhire is the right guy to get this team back to contention.

    I can see Gardenhire doing just like his predecessor, Tom Kelly. After Kelly led the Twins to four straight 90+ loss seasons, he went with a youthful group that, in 2001, competed into the second half of the season. Thatís what I can see happening in 2015. Should that happen, I can see Gardenhire saying, "OK, this team is back to where it should be" and turning it over to the next manager who will lead the way for the next decade or more.
    This article was originally published in blog: Right Man for the Job started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 85 Comments
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      I saw the puff piece headline and didn't need to read the by line. This 3 year old and counting failed project is not Gardy's fault alone but a little turnover in a business is healthy. Especially when the subject despite being liked, hard working and all other glowing attributes you pointed out has failed at his job 3 years in a row. If they would have had this loyalty to Cuddy, Hunter and the list of departed players that that seemed to share Gardy's work eithic and professionalism maybe they could have avoided this dark hole in their history.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      These weren't just some projects that were viewed as some as not successful. This is overall end product of a $200 million revenue, high visibility organization in an ultra-competitive industry. The results have been extremely poor, and as a result, the organization has lost a significant amount of revenue, with more revenue losses on the horizon.

      The "promote from within" mentality is definitely meritorious, and could be a advantageous strength as this sort of loyalty can shield organizations from making rash reactionary choices that can hamper long-term progress. However, the organization needs to couple employee loyalty with a culture of innovation and learning.

      I don't see that learning from this manager, nor a particular desire to make any changes in his approach. I don't see any defensive shifts, or maximazation of platoon advantages, or creative bullpen usage.

      And I don't see successful development and integration of young players, which is the single most important skill the Twins will need in the coming few years.

      I appreciate the "big picture" view of this decision, but in my view, the big picture view shows that long-term success is most likely found under the guidance of a new leader.
    1. raindog's Avatar
      raindog -
      I appreciate the positive take, Seth. But I have to agree with AM's point of view. I could never have said it better.

      Especially this part:
      I don't see that learning from this manager, nor a particular desire to make any changes in his approach. I don't see any defensive shifts, or maximazation of platoon advantages, or creative bullpen usage.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I've never cared much for Gardenhire. I think he's a bad in-game manager. He refuses to platoon, often makes bizarre calls to the pen, and generally, just makes me scratch my head, as if we're watching different events unfold on the field.

      With that said, nice piece Seth. I'm neutral on retaining Gardenhire as the manager. I simply think that the manager doesn't make much of an on-field difference unless he's exceptionally intelligent and studious (Maddon, anyone?). The players seem to like Gardy. During his tenure, we have seen very few clubhouse incidents and most of the time, this franchise was lauded for being able to put its head down and play some friggin' baseball. The players have often responded to him in positive ways, though that is certainly in question after the last three Septembers.

      I also understand people's problem with this move, that it feels a lot like the franchise is stuck in neutral. What I don't understand is the pure, childish vitriol spewed toward Gardenhire and his coaches over this choice. Part of this franchise's strength has been in its loyalty to management and the front office, trusting in their ability to see things through to their completion. It would have been easy to cut ties with Ryan in the late 90s but they didn't do it. It would have been easy to cut ties with Kelly in the late 90s but they didn't do it.

      And that seemed to turn out okay for everyone.
    1. chopper0080's Avatar
      chopper0080 -
      Quote Originally Posted by raindog View Post
      I appreciate the positive take, Seth. But I have to agree with AM's point of view. I could never have said it better.

      Especially this part:
      Agreed. Along with a lack of results has been a lack of improvement and development which speaks to a lack of future production.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      If you are waiting for Gardy to make some profound mistake to justify firing him....
      It will never happen. That just isn't how baseball works, managers don't have that much control. That's partly why I'm neutral as well, but I don't like the insinuation he hasn't done enough to be fired. He never will, that can't be the reasoning for moving on.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Just for fun, imagine you have an employee that has the opportunity to go on to another job, where he will have more resources, but where expectations will be higher and failure will be met with stern reprimand, perhaps even firing. He chooses to stay in his current job because he knows failure will be met with "meh, he's a good guy, here's another contract."

      Is that someone you want leading?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Truth be told, I'm pretty neutral on it as well. I think that you could create a pro-con list for Gardy and the Twins, and it would likely come out pretty equal.

      I just so often hear, "Well, you can't fire the players." So teams fire the manager. Maybe it's OK to actually keep the manager that has proven himself and put it on the players. That said, with the group of players that were trying their best the last month of the season, it's hard to put too much on them. I guess, in my mind, it's all about the front office at this point. That's my honest opinion, and that's what I continually found myself going to as I was writing.

      I may be the only one, but I do believe in Terry Ryan for the long-term. I do wonder what that means for 2014 when lots of players will get their opportunity all around the field. Aside from never having enough pitching, I wouldn't want to blog the Sano's, Meyer's, etc.

      They are in a weird place.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Just for fun, imagine you have an employee that has the opportunity to go on to another job, where he will have more resources, but where expectations will be higher and failure will be met with stern reprimand, perhaps even firing. He chooses to stay in his current job because he knows failure will be met with "meh, he's a good guy, here's another contract."

      Is that someone you want leading?
      Isn't this the same thing that happened with Mike Radcliff? At least one team wanted to interview him for a GM position and the Twins refused to allow the interview (perhaps at Radcliff's request).

      Again, shouldn't you want your execs & coaches to be sought after by other organizations and to advance their own careers? If they do that, it provides opportunities to add "outside talent" to your own organization. But instead of injecting new thought and perspectives from time-to-time, the Twins seem to prefer to promote from within -- usually waiting until someone retires before they do even that. I can only conclude that they really don't want anyone challenging the "Twins Way".

      I remember reading an article a few years ago in which Terry Ryan (I believe) told a story about going to the winter meetings (or something similar) and how they could have flown but how a bunch of them wanted to drive down (to Tennessee, I think) because they all enjoyed spending time together so much. At the time I thought it was a kind of cute, Minnesota story. Now, in my mind, it has become a symbol of too much togetherness, complacency and "old boy network" in the organization.
    1. scottz's Avatar
      scottz -
      I appreciate the attempt to have people look at it from a "real world" (i.e., non sports world) scenario, but my experience in the real world would say that the employee in question would not be retained in the same role. I have seen long-time co-workers being asked to consider moving on, shifted to other (lesser) roles, and in some cases, let go when a pattern of "projects gone bad" happens on their watch.

      As a co-worker and friend, I was sad for these smart, talented managers. As someone who understands the business of my company's business, most of the time, the moves made sense.

      Like I said, I appreciate the angle, but I believe my company would have made a move. A polite move, respectful of the guy in charge, but they would have made a move.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If Gardenhire was trying new things, and being innovative and failing, that would be one thing. But he's not. He is an awful game manager. He is stuck in 1971 in terms of understanding strategy and tactics. His pinch running decisions alone show that, let alone his refusal to platoon players, or his ability to RUN THE TEAM, as opposed to letting Mauer decide where he plays.

      You, Seth, you have been saying for years they don't do the little things well. If there is one thing a coach should be able to control, it is that. He can't make a guy a great hitter if he's awful, he can't make a horrible starting pitcher a great one, but he can teach a team how to run bases, where to position themselves, and how to hit the cutoff man correctly.

      Some will say "these are pros, they shoudl know that already". Well, if so, what is the point of a manager / coach then?

      There just isn't evidence that he and his staff have done a good job of making the players better the longer they have worked with them. That's their role.

      Lastly, talk is cheap. TR keeps saying this is his fault, but he still has his job. If all that happens next year is that some guys come up from the minors, and no real FA impacts happen again, will we give him another free pass?
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I've never cared much for Gardenhire. I think he's a bad in-game manager. He refuses to platoon, often makes bizarre calls to the pen, and generally, just makes me scratch my head, as if we're watching different events unfold on the field.

      With that said, nice piece Seth. I'm neutral on retaining Gardenhire as the manager. I simply think that the manager doesn't make much of an on-field difference unless he's exceptionally intelligent and studious (Maddon, anyone?). The players seem to like Gardy. During his tenure, we have seen very few clubhouse incidents and most of the time, this franchise was lauded for being able to put its head down and play some friggin' baseball. The players have often responded to him in positive ways, though that is certainly in question after the last three Septembers.

      I also understand people's problem with this move, that it feels a lot like the franchise is stuck in neutral. What I don't understand is the pure, childish vitriol spewed toward Gardenhire and his coaches over this choice. Part of this franchise's strength has been in its loyalty to management and the front office, trusting in their ability to see things through to their completion. It would have been easy to cut ties with Ryan in the late 90s but they didn't do it. It would have been easy to cut ties with Kelly in the late 90s but they didn't do it.

      And that seemed to turn out okay for everyone.
      a couple things:

      I disagree that a manager "doesn't make much on field difference." He's deciding who to play, who to rest, when to take 6 innings of smoke and mirrors from Kevin Corriea and call it good or try for one more, when to sacrifice, etc etc etc. in an era where fans argue over "1 WAR" I find it hard to believe people think a manager doesn't affect the W/L record materially.

      They ended up cutting ties with Kelly anyway. I bet the same fate befalls Gardy.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Truth be told, I'm pretty neutral on it as well. I think that you could create a pro-con list for Gardy and the Twins, and it would likely come out pretty equal....
      Can you say the same for Anderson? The starting rotation has been bad, very bad. Is there no one who could have gotten more out of those pitchers?

      Is there such a thing as a 'pro' on the side of keeping a guy at his position whose sole claim to fame is that he did not ruin Johan Santana?

      I would be happy to be enlightened by some wise baseball person who could explain to me what it is that makes Anderson a good pitching coach. Then I'll have to take your word for it, as there is no evidence anywhere in MLB.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      a couple things:

      I disagree that a manager "doesn't make much on field difference." He's deciding who to play, who to rest, when to take 6 innings of smoke and mirrors from Kevin Corriea and call it good or try for one more, when to sacrifice, etc etc etc. in an era where fans argue over "1 WAR" I find it hard to believe people think a manager doesn't affect the W/L record materially.

      They ended up cutting ties with Kelly anyway. I bet the same fate befalls Gardy.
      Clearly the manager makes a difference.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If he doesn't, why keep Gardy, why not pay Seth 1/5th the money? Clearly the manager matters.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Gardy is the right man for the job because he has it.
      The Twins organization is a lot like Augusta National Golf Club. Ultra conservative, extremely slow to make any change and usually only after kicking and screaming before they do. It's an old school country club where everyone pats each other on the back has a few drinks some food and they tell stories of great times past. It's also very vanilla.
      Baseball has moved on to technicolor and even some clubs to HD. This club has very little diversity organization wide and that is a problem when so many of the players are non-white. They had one black coach they fired him. They added a Texas born and raised coach that speaks spanish to solve that problem. The season ending 25 man roster had no black players and 4 latin players. How can that be?
      This team has to come into modern times. They need to accept technology, they need to diversify and integrate into the organization change, not token change but real change. That means going outside the country club and bringing in new innovative people with diverse backgrounds and ideas.
      Does anyone see change going forward with Gardy and Ryan in charge? If you don’t accept change how do you get better?
      We all like that old chair that is so comfortable even when it starts falling apart but at some point its time to start new.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Just for fun, imagine you have an employee that has the opportunity to go on to another job, where he will have more resources, but where expectations will be higher and failure will be met with stern reprimand, perhaps even firing. He chooses to stay in his current job because he knows failure will be met with "meh, he's a good guy, here's another contract."

      Is that someone you want leading?
      This is speculation as to his motivation for staying, and personally I don't buy it. There are plenty of other reasons to stay, including perhaps simply enjoying living in the area, and also perhaps the young talent coming up through the system. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume his strong desire to stay stems from factors other than a desired lack of accountability.
    1. CharacterGroove's Avatar
      CharacterGroove -
      Yesterday's decision did not upset me that much - the manager wasn't the problem - but I would have preferred a change. It's not about accountability for the terrible play, either, because that's really just code for fans wanting a fall guy.

      The whole organization is just ready for some fresh air. But because that's not to be, we'll wait patiently to see if there's a genuine interest in changing course in the next 5 months. But I have my reservations that we'll see anything significantly different, and that's where my frustration lies.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      You, Seth, you have been saying for years they don't do the little things well. If there is one thing a coach should be able to control, it is that. He can't make a guy a great hitter if he's awful, he can't make a horrible starting pitcher a great one, but he can teach a team how to run bases, where to position themselves, and how to hit the cutoff man correctly.
      I think that the Twins preach fundamentals as much as anyone. They have players bunt. They preach the PFP. They have Paul Molitor in the organization to help with base running. They put in their time teaching and practicing those things, from what we're told, more than other teams. But Gardy and his coaches can't actually bunt for the player, or run the bases for them. They can't run routes and hit cut off men for the players.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      Can you say the same for Anderson? The starting rotation has been bad, very bad. Is there no one who could have gotten more out of those pitchers?
      My initial reaction to hearing the Anderson was coming back was disappointment. But then I thought, if I'm saying that there's not much that Gardy or any manager could have done with this roster, a big part of that has to be saying that there isn't much that Anderson can do with that pitching staff.

      And, to be fair, he did well with the bullpen, for the most part. He deserves some credit for Perkins, Fien, Burton, turning Duensing's season around, and working through things with Ryan Pressly. He coaxed Kevin Correia to arguably his best season of his career, in his first year in the American League. He should get some credit for Sam Deduno's big drop in BB/9.

      I've always thought Anderson was overrated. He got a ton of credit for Guardado and Hawkins, and he's had a few successes since then.

      I'm not a huge fan, but I can't be upset either.
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